Who restarts a 100hr playthrough, honestly? I do!
I won’t sugar coat it, Satisfactory was seriously making me question my sanity. ImKibbitz has a ton of videos on that game (and does a great job at it too), and his more recent one on the transition of late-game nuclear waste (the penultimate stage) is fascinating to me. You know how you watch a Minecraft video and it shows these massive cities? Satisfactory is like that. It’s a 24 minute video that honestly covers like 20 hours of effort. It’s glorious when it’s all running at the end. (There’s another video of a “full game world” with some artistic touches that has over 1000hrs of playtime. Craziness.
So I was thinking, is Dyson Sphere Project really that different? What is it about that game that makes it more enjoyable? A new playthrough with a different set of lenses, one that understands the mechanics and has a general plan, would certainly focus on the details and quality of life bits. At least, that was the thinking.
The randomizer at the start of the game has some bits of interesting, like how spread out the star systems are. If they are too close, then the rare materials spawn less often. So a wide space is best. The number of planets per type doesn’t mean much – you’ll only ever have 1 black hole. With that set up, I landed and began immediately to survey the land.
Every starting planet has the same sort of temperate layout. You’ll have water, trees, rocks, iron, copper, coal, stone and oil. The “difficulty” here is in the land allocation. You’re often put in a space that’s somewhat tight in terms of land/water ratio, and the first few nodes accessible are low volume. Starter area after all. That makes it important to scout ahead and find where the larger ore piles are located and the larger land masses. You’re going to need it.
The concept here is that you want to build a highway of basic material, and then run it through a production area. The first “bus” area will focus on stone, iron, and copper. You’ll break it into 4 phases, basic material, assembled material, buildings, and storage.
Basic material is the initial smelting process. Stone to Bricks, Iron to Ingots and Magnets, Copper to Ingots. The assembled material will move into the simple items, Gears, Magnetic Coils and Circuit Boards. This phase then leads out with 5 lines to the buildings section (bricks, iron ingots, gears, coils, and circuit boards). You can make nearly every important building with these 5 items (Tesla, Wind Turbine, Belts, Sorters, Splitters, Storage, Smelters, Assemblers, Miners, Thermal Stations). Building all these things is important, but you’ll want to store them too. Setting the maximums is important, you’re unlikely to need more than 50 miners and a box can hold 1500. Best to restrict production so that the resources can be used for things “down the line”.
Since this bus takes space, you’re going to need some rather open room to build it all. I’ve personally split it into 2 groups – one for the first 2 phases, then another for the last 2. Breaking up a phase is not a good idea, you’ll end up with spaghetti lines. The best part of a bus is that if you empty an ore node, it’s really easy to run a new supply line to the start and not have to rebuild the entire thing. And since you’ll have 5 main outputs (and access to copper ingots), you can then work to have a more complex 5th tier of the bus to make things go.
The concepts of buses are important, as you’re going to need to do it again for oil, and then again for silicon. You’ll have basic inputs, a transform phase, and then a storage phase. And then use that storage to kick off another transform & storage phase. The storage part is super important, as it allows you to make changes within the bus and not have impacts on the rate of production downstream. As supply chains get more complex, breaking an early part can have devastating effects down stream. It also allows you to create one-off items when automation isn’t practical (e.g. early logistic stations).
The research tree in DSP is big, and it’s entirely possible to research a tech and not be able to build the items because it’s missing a dependency. It’s also not at all clear to a new player what’s actually important!
Having done a full playthrough, I have a much greater appreciation for what’s important for progress. You’ll reach pain points that prevent automation, so my general thinking is:
- Basic power (tesla + wind turbines)
- Mining (to get ore)
- Smelting (to make ingots)
- Logistics (belts and sorters)
- Assemblers (to complete the bus)
- Blue Matrix (research cubes)
- Graphite (refined coal)
- Thermal Plants
That’s pretty much all you need to get the main starter bus up and running. The upgrade tree (generic upgrades) are also good, where you really want to unlock Drive Engine 2 in order to visit another planet. The other planet will have silicon & titanium, essential for future growth.
The early game is all about Blue Matrix production. You need oil to get to the Red Matrix phase, which is a new bus that is more dependent on glass production (stone) and a completely different bus (water, sulphur, coal, oil). The Yellow Matrix phase is a right mess, because it needs Titanium and Silicon, which are only found on another planet. You need a fair chunk of it too, like 6 trips with full inventory worth, to get access to the real goal – Interplanetary Logistic Stations.
When you get access to those (~ the 8hr mark), the game completely changes in scope. For another post.